Newcastle 2 Birmingham 1: Steven Taylor's first goal for two years eases relegation fears

07 May 2011 04:20
ShareSteven Taylor headed Newcastle to Barclays Premier League safety as 10-man Birmingham's woes increased at St James' Park.

The Carling Cup winners had defender Liam Ridgewell controversially dismissed for deliberate handball 10 minutes before the break to spark a madcap and ultimately decisive flurry of activity.

Shola Ameobi converted the resultingpenalty to give the Magpies the advantage and when Taylor powered home asecond from Joey Barton's corner, the game looked to be over.


Fine start: Shola Ameobi hit Newcastle ahead from the spot after 36 minutes

However, Lee Bowyer marked his returnto Tyneside with a 45th-minute strike, which went in off Fabricio Coloccini's leg, to give the visitors hope.

But the margin of victory would have been far greater had it not been for the heroics of City keeper Ben Foster, who made stunning saves from Peter Lovenkrands, Nile Ranger and Kevin Nolan twice to keep his side in it to the whistle.

Victory took Newcastle to 44 points and left Birmingham on 39 and while the former can now start planning for next season, there is still work to be done for the West Midlanders.

Arms race: Sebastian Larsson (right) Shola Ameobi lock horns

The game kicked off with both sides knowing a win would effectively end their relegation fears, and equally aware that a draw would not be the worst result, and for much of the opening 45 minutes, the game reflected that reality.

There was little action of note as defences dominated with Ameobi and Lovenkrands seeing little of the ballat one end and lone striker Cameron Jerome, his physical battle with Taylor aside, finding himself equally under-employed.

Appeal: Newcastle players look to referee Chris Foy after Liam Ridgewell (right) handled on the line

Indeed, neither keeper had a save ofany consequence to make until Foster got down well to turn away Barton's skidding 30-yard drive with 17 minutes gone.

But the end-of-season feel evaporated in an explosive final 10 minutes of the half.

The visitors found themselves under the cosh as the Magpies launched a sustained assault with old boy Stephen Carr clearing Ameobi's header off the line and Foster pulling off a fine save to keep out Coloccini's follow-up.

The Argentinian reacted first to head over Foster only for Carr to intervene once again.

However, as the ball fell towards Nolan, Ridgewell nudged it clear with his arm and referee Chris Foy pointed straight to the spot before producing a red card.

Red card offence: Ridgewell (right) gets his marching orders

Ameobi waited patiently while Ridgewell made his feelings clear, and then calmly tucked the penalty into the bottom corner for his ninth goal of the season.

The 10 men might have been dead and buried long before the break had Foster not made fine reaction saves to deny first Lovenkrands and then Nolan, but there was nothing he could doto keep out Taylor's towering 43rd-minute header, which Sebastian Larsson could only help into his own net.

But Newcastle contrived to hand the visitors a lifeline on the stroke of half-time when Coloccini misjudged along clearance to allow Jerome in.

The Argentinian and Taylor got back well to halt the striker's progress, but when he fed the ball to Bowyer,his shot ended up in the back of the net via a deflection off Coloccini.

No quarter given: Lee Bowyer (left) and Danny Simpson do battle

Full-back Jose Enrique fizzed a 35-yard drive just wide of Foster's right post within two minutes of the restart as the Magpies attempted to kill off the game, and Ameobi headed over seven minutes later when he might have done better.

However, it took a good block by Taylor seconds later to deny Bowyer a second, and keeper Tim Krul had to save as the midfielder got in a second attempt from the rebound.

Birmingham were coping well with their numerical disadvantage, although they were aided by some lacklustre play from the hosts.

Hair-raising stuff: Jonas Gutierrez is challenged by Birmingham's Barry Ferguson

Nolan was unable to direct a 64th-minute volley at goal, although Taylor's header arrived at a difficult height, and Cheick Tiote fired well wide seconds later with the home side stepping up a gear.

But for Foster, the scoreline would have assumed ugly proportions for Alex McLeish, the keeper plucking Nolan's goal-bound 74th-minute header out of the air and then making an even better save from substitute Ranger three minutes later.

Not their day: Larsson was a force, but Birmingham still ended up losing

Roger Johnson cleared Ameobi's 88th-minute chip off the line, but it was all to no avail as the Magpies claimed the points with Tiote's record-equalling 14th booking of the season the only disappointment.

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 Explore more:People: Steven Taylor, Lee Bowyer, Ben Foster, Liam Ridgewell, Kevin Nolan, Alex McLeish, Sebastian Larsson, Roger Johnson, Joey Barton Places: Birmingham, Newcastle

Source: Daily_Mail

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